Local News

Planetarium Helps Hale-Bopp Fans

Posted March 27, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Brighter than a speeding Halley's Comet. More luminous than Deneb and Altair, among the heaven's finest stars. Able to delight everyone at a public gathering -- it's Comet Hale-Bopp.

To help interested amateur astronomers in the Triangle locate and enjoy Hale-Bopp, the UNC's Morehead Planetarium is taking its sky show on the road.

Three free comet viewings are being offered through planetarium auspices at 7:15 p.m. Friday March 28 and on April 4 and 11 at the Ebenezer Church Recreation Area at Jordan Lake, off US 64.

Hale-Bopp is best viewed with binoculars or the naked eye, said planetarium Director Dr. Lee Shapiro. "Even to the unaided eye, it looks distinctly fuzzy, and its tail is readily apparent." But telescopes will be available at Morehead's comet viewing.

Hale-Bopp is 122 million miles from Earth. The comet is about three times brighter than Comet Halley was at its brightest point in 1986.

To find Hale-Bopp from late March through April, look to the northwest from about 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Seek a secluded area, as free of lights as possible, with a low northwest evening horizon. If you park your car on a rural road, be sure there is a sufficient shoulder to enable you to stop safely and for other cars to pass.